Flicker Alley, in association with the Library of Congress and Blackhawk Films, recently released Laurel or Hardy: Early Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy on a Deluxe Blu-ray Edition. The two-disc set offers 35 newly restored films starring either Laurel or Hardy before they joined forces to become the most successful comedy duo in movie history.
Laurel or Hardy includes films of Stan Laurel spanning from 1918 to 1925 and Babe (Oliver) Hardy’s from 1914 to 1926. It is fascinating to see their individual styles evolve through the years as you watch these two-reelers, and to see how different they were from each other – Laurel is broad in his comedic delivery and Hardy more introspective, which makes sense given one came from the stage and the other honed his talents in moving pictures. While Babe Hardy is clearly (to me) the better actor as illustrated in Hungry Hearts (1916), it is Laurel’s moments of genius that made me laugh aloud. I particularly enjoyed gags in Gilbert M. Anderson’s The Egg (1922), which I watched three times. There are several gems in the collection, however, from directors like Arthur D. Hotaling, Will Louis, Charles Parrott, Larry Semon, George Jeske, Ralph Cedar, and Stan Laurel. I have noted the complete list of movies below.
Laurel and Hardy appeared together for the first time by chance in Jess Robbins’ The Lucky Dog (1921), one hundred years ago. It was not until each joined Hal Roach Studios, however, that their work together began. In 1927, Leo McCarey, then working at Roach, thought the boys’ contrasting styles would work well together. No one has ever been more right. While the Laurel or Hardy blu-ray set offers movies of them alone, prior to their working together, fans of the duo will delight in recognizing familiar gags and sequences, which Laurel in particular, recycled in later pictures.
I can go on and on about how special it is to watch the Laurel or Hardy: Early Films of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and thank all involved in the new 2K & 4K restorations by the geniuses at Lobster Films. These restorations begin with exhaustive searches the world over to find copies to scan before the technical work can even begin. The music for the collection is new and contributed by talents like Serge Bromberg, Ben Model, Phil Carli, Neil Brand and others. Every frame is meticulously supported by great music. It is evident that a lot of care went into bringing this collection to life.
Included in the blu-ray set are image galleries featuring rare production, publicity and behind-the-scenes stills of each actor. The best part for me is the souvenir booklet I held close as I watched each movie for the production notes that trace Laurel’s and Hardy’s careers. Each mentions producers, actors, and directors who influenced the pair and gives wonderful insight in the path Laurel and Hardy took toward their legendary collaboration.
Thank you Martin Ibarra-Ramos, Brand Manager/Writer at Flicker Alley for the review copy of Laurel or Hardy. This is a gem for any movie fan’s collection.
Stan Laurel Films:
Bears and Bad Men (1918); The Egg (1922); A Weak-End Party (1922); The Pest (1922); When Knights Were Cold (1923); The Handy Man (1923); Pick and Shovel (1923); Collars and Cuffs (1923); Gas and Air (1923); A Man About Town (1923); The Whole Truth (1923); Brothers Under the Chin (1924); Zeb Vs. Paprika (1924); Wide Open Spaces (1924); Detained (1924); Twins (1925); Pie-Eyed (1925)
Oliver Hardy Films:
Mother’s Baby Boy (1914); The Servant Girl’s Legacy (1914); An Expensive Visit (1915); A Lucky Strike (1915); The New Adventures of J. Rufus Wallingford: The Lilac Splash (1915); The Serenade (1916); Hungry Hearts (1916); The Candy Trail (1916); The Chief Cook (1917); Hello Trouble (1918); Married to Order (1918); He’s In Again (1918); The Rent Collector (1921); The Bakery (1921); The Show (1922); Rivals (1925); Wandering Papas (1926); Say It With Babies (1926)